Financial Literacy Month
Our country’s most recent recession had far-reaching consequences, and many Americans are still feeling the effects of the economic crisis. While some people adapted by tightening the spending belt during rough times, on other families it has been more challenging.
With this in mind, we would like to include in our consumer outreach those who are continuing to struggle financially. Those who are in the midst of financial chaos don’t always have a choice to instantly correct their financial picture, even if the desire is there. Many people already know the basics of what they “should” be doing. For some families, it takes manysmall steps to combat the immediate problem at hand, before moving forward towards financial health.
Acknowledging Financial Literacy Month, we will be focusing our April resources on helping those in financial crisis.
Dr. Debt, a website created by ACA International Education Foundation to provide free and unbiased answers to consumers' debt questions, offers steps on rebuilding your financial life
Make a personal assessment. The first step to getting out of debt is to honestly assess your situation. Gather all your bills. Write down the due dates, balances and interest rates for all credit cards so that you can see which debts are costing you the most.
Prioritize which payments should be paid first. Determine what you can pay toward any or all debts and, based on that assessment, communicate with your lenders. They might help you come up with a repayment plan you can afford.
Learn from past. Once you have worked through your current situation, it's extremely important to learn from any past mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future. Yes, sometimes debt is unavoidable, but there are many simple ways for you to become more financially solvent in the future.
Make a plan to get out of debt. Relying too heavily on credit cards each month can lead to dangerous over-consumption. Try paying cash for everyday expenses. It will help you realize the actual cost of simple things like gas and groceries, and nonessential items such as coffee shop lattes and dining out.
Financial Literacy Month isn’t just for people who are perfecting their spending and savings habits, but is important (arguably more so) for those who are financially underwater. Visit the MCUCD website throughout the month of April for financial literacy topics that will help you rebuild your financial life.
Check out the following links for more great online resources for consumers.
Smart about Money: NEFE is an independent, nonprofit foundation committed to educating Americans on a broad range of financial topics and empowering them to make positive and sound decisions to reach their financial goals
MyMoney.gov:21 Federal entities compose the Financial Literacy and Education Commission provide the materials that are available the website.
Financial Planning Association: The Financial Planning Associationis a leadership and advocacy organization connecting those who provide, support and benefit from professional financial planning.
Practical Money Skills: At practical money skills, consumers, educators, parents, students and policymakers can access free educational resources, including personal finance articles, games and lesson plans.
360 Degrees of Financial Literacy: A free program of the nation’s certified public accountants to help Americans understand their personal finances through every stage of life.
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This Consumer Tip and MontanaLawHelp.org is a joint project of Montana's Credit Unions and Montana Legal Services Association. MontanaLawHelp.org has information about consumer issues, housing, money management, and more.